A survey conducted by Asahi Kasei Europe in October 2019 and published earlier this month reveals that the key decision factors influencing car purchases among consumers are shifting.
The survey, carried out in collaboration with Cologne-based market research institute SKOPOS, included interviews with 1,200 car users in Germany, France, Italy and the United Kingdom, who were asked about their preferences with regard to mobility and what they expected of cars, and especially of car interiors, in the future.
Throughout the years, many different concepts of the interior of the future have been presented. Yet what do car users truly look for? Unsurprisingly the survey revealed that the way car users interact with their vehicle is evolving rapidly.
Megatrends, such as connectivity, autonomy, sharing and electric mobility, are strongly impacting user needs, directing the focus toward the interior of the car. While traditional metrics such as fuel consumption, running costs or driving performance still represent key decision factors, interior features—such as acoustic systems, including noise cancellation systems, and overall advanced driver assistance systems—are becoming increasingly important.
Good acoustic systems are welcome, as for users of autonomous vehicles, the perception of sound will change dramatically, as will the overall driving experience. To some extent, noise can be controlled through material selection, from synthetic rubber for the tires to sound-absorbing plastics and textiles. Every second respondent reported seeing personal benefit in noise-canceling acoustic systems and every third respondent that they would be willing to pay extra for them.
The same held for acoustic systems optimizing the input of voice commands, with 49.5 percent of respondents viewing these as a benefit and 31.9 percent willing to pay for them. As a feature for acoustic systems for in-car entertainment, 39.5 percent saw a benefit in systems that direct music and audio toward the passengers in a private sound zone. However, only one in four—26.5 percent—said they would be willing to pay extra for these to be installed, a sign that this technology is just finding its way into the automotive industry.
As traffic and the need for connectivity increases, advanced driver assistance systems are showing tremendous market growth, a development driven by both legislation and demand. With Regulation (EU) 2019/2144 introduced by the European Union in November, all new cars within the European Union market must be equipped with enhanced safety systems, including a wide range of advanced driving assistance systems, such as lane departure warning or braking assistance systems, from mid-2022.
Acceptance of the use of ADAS is growing, a trend found across all four countries. According to the survey, 54.3 percent of all car users would take the availability of an assistance system into consideration when purchasing their next car, versus only 39.9 percent, who looked at this feature when buying their current car.
"The rising number of ADAS on the street is an essential milestone on the path toward fully autonomous vehicles. Two decades ago, the key problem had been to familiarize drivers with features like adaptive cruise control or forward alert. Today, the end user is aware of the benefits of such systems. The challenge now is to offer these systems for an affordable price," said Heiko Rother, general manager Business Development Automotive at Asahi Kasei Europe.
"Radar MMIC-monolithic microwave integrated circuit-chips from Asahi Kasei Microdevices leveraging CMOS complementary metal oxide semiconductor technology support this process of making active safety feature available down to smaller car segments," he added.